Creech, Steve, Sumrall, Phil, Burris, Mike, and Cockrell, Charles E., Jr
60th International Astronautical Congress; 12-16 Oct. 2009; Daejeon; Korea, Republic of
Launch Vehicles and Launch Operations
As part of NASA s Constellation Program to resume exploration beyond low Earth orbit (LEO), the Ares V heavy-lift cargo launch vehicle as currently conceived will be able to send more crew and cargo to more places on the Moon than the Apollo Program Saturn V. (Figure 1) It also has unprecedented cargo mass and volume capabilities that will be a national asset for science, commerce, and national defense applications. Compared to current systems, it will offer approximately five times the mass and volume to most orbits and locations. The Columbia space shuttle accident, the resulting investigation, the Vision for Space Exploration, and the Exploration Systems Architecture Study (ESAS) broadly shaped the Constellation architecture. Out of those events and initiatives emerged an architecture intended to replace the space shuttle, complete the International Space Station (ISS), resume a much more ambitious plan to explore the moon as a stepping stone to other destinations in the solar system. The Ares I was NASA s main priority because of the goal to retire the Shuttle. Ares V remains in a concept development phase, evolving through hundreds of configurations. The current reference design was approved during the Lunar Capabilities Concept Review/Ares V Mission Concept Review (LCCR/MCR) in June 2008. This reference concept serves as a starting point for a renewed set of design trades and detailed analysis into its interaction with the other components of the Constellation architecture and existing launch infrastructure. In 2009, the Ares V team was heavily involved in supporting the Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee. Several alternative designs for Ares V have been supplied to the committee. This paper will discuss the origins of the Ares V design, the evolution to the current reference configuration, and the options provided to the review committee.